Friday, 22 October 2010

Finding stories

For me a good source of story ideas is news headlines. You know those little snippets of news you can't avoid when you go into your email? I'm not talking about the headlining stories about world shattering events, but the little human stories that come and go without much attention.

It's perhaps ghoulish to capitalise on the human tragedy these stories contain, but this is the stuff of drama. When a spurned lover sabotages his rival's parachute or a bankrupt farmer goes amok with a shotgun everyone wants to know the whole story. We're drawn to it like moths to a flame. Because we're all muddling through our usually mundane lives and the calamitous events of someone else's give us a vicarious thrill. That's why we have to look when we pass a motorway smash. It could have been us.

Some tragic stories linger in the imagination, and its one such event (or actually two, now I think about it) that are at the heart of my current WIP. Of course, many of the details have been changed to make this my story instead of someone else's. But as a writer I'm less interested in the who or why than in what the effects of the events were. How did it feel, for the people involved? That's something only the victim can know for certain, but it gives plenty of scope for an author's imagination.

No comments: